Laurianna FordLaurianna FordNovember 27, 2019
support-1120755_1280-1280x853.jpg

5min3031

For many organisations, the contact or call centre is still the shopfront of the business.

At last count, there were 6,175 contact centres in the UK, employing some 772,500 agents. As the first port of call for clients and customers, the role of call agents shouldn’t be underestimated.

You might be the first person a caller has ever spoken to from a business; you might even be the first person that a caller has spoken to in weeks. Establishing a positive customer relationship from that first moment of contact is essential; impressions are often made quickly and can have a lasting impact.

With the internet now being so accessible, customers are more inclined to be vocal about a bad experience. Negative reviews can spread like wildfire on social media and the last thing a company wants is their organisation bad-mouthed in public.

Call North West is an organisation that supports contact centres in the region and each year they award stand-out people and companies for their contribution to customer service. I was proud recently to be named Sales Agent of the Year at their annual awards ceremony in Manchester. When new recruits name you as the agent they aspire to be, you know you must be doing something right!

I have worked for Freedom Finance, a fintech lending platform that matches consumers to suitable loans and mortgages, for over three years. Like other financial service providers, we strive to provide excellent customer service and have managed to excel in this area, with a top Trust Pilot rating. The business has achieved this all whilst operating on an almost fully digital model, with 872,000 amount of customer journeys currently completed online over the last rolling 12 months.

Where does that trust stem from? It starts with the people in the contact centre. Collectively, we strongly believe that customers need clarity and not just choice – sometimes the best way to accomplish this is through the help of an actual person, whether that’s on the end of the telephone line, or through an online chat facility.

Being self-motivated has allowed me to exceed targets and step-up when extra support is needed on the floor. Whilst these are personal attributes, there are some simple and achievable steps that anyone working in a contact centre can take in their pursuit of an excellent customer outcome.

Here are my top three tips for delivering excellent customer service:

Tip 1: Your attitude

You have to wake up and be ready for the day before you even start. If your mindset isn’t right or you don’t have the right attitude, you’ve already failed, and you can’t give the customer your best.

Tip 2: Be patient

We speak to customers from all walks of life and every customer is different.

Some need more support than others, which could be anything from understanding the terms and conditions, to having someone verbally navigate them through the digital application process online. It’s these customers that sometimes matter the most. They require extra assistance and the human touch to help them make a properly informed decision.

Tip 3: Remember, it costs nothing to be nice

Your interaction could impact someone’s life. Even if you can’t provide the customer with the product or answer that they want, you can always be nice and friendly, and hopefully leave them happy with the service you have provided.

 


Jeremy PayneJeremy PayneApril 29, 2019
phone-424228_1280-1280x853.jpg

8min1644

Historically, businesses have primarily perceived call recording as a regulatory insurance policy.

The typical process was that calls were recorded, archived, and then accessed whenever a complaint was made. Some organisations still see call recording primarily in this way today.

Other businesses have moved on a step and carried out batch sampling on call records. Often, they might listen in to every 100th phone call for compliance purposes. They might also focus on monitoring new employees to help embed best practice. Alternatively, they might use the batch recordings for training purposes, picking out examples of angry customers, or high-performing agents dealing with customer queries.

Today, thanks to the latest AI and analytics, organisations can do much more with call recordings. With solutions like coacher and helper bots emerging, together with technologies like real time speech analytics (RTSA), we are seeing the advent of a new world of call recording.

Instead of simply being used reactively for compliance or training, the potential for organisations to use technology working in real-time in conjunction with the customer service representative has raised the bar, making it possible to use these kinds of solutions to drive up customer satisfaction and increase sales.

In particular, this is giving businesses greater insight into their contact centre and customer service operations. They can now listen in to every phone call. They can measure the sentiment of a customer interaction more precisely in real-time. Is the customer getting stressed? Is the agent becoming aggressive? Has the agent failed to make proactive use of the available helper bot to answer the customer’s query?

Answering these questions positively can be key to the success of a business, but it is also important to highlight that call recording today has evolved into much more than just recording a phone call. When listening to call recordings, business managers today also need to know what the agent was looking at on the screen at the time they provided information to the customer for example. Incorrect data on the company’s website could help to exonerate an agent who has made a mistake, and pinpoint a problem that needs to be addressed.

That’s why the ability to capture screen information, helping to put the call in context starts to give supervisors a clearer picture of what is happening within their customer service operation – and that drives better customer satisfaction, and improves the level of first interaction resolution. All this contextual information can then feed into a continuous improvement loop. Where one interaction is resolved successfully that can then feed the knowledge management and information systems making the whole process more accurate.

Barriers to roll-out

If you consider what is possible now and the way many organisations are starting to embrace and use these types of technologies, hand-in-hand with a human agent, the potential to also improve customer service and drive up sales has also increased enormously.

So, given all the benefits that they could achieve from this new approach, why isn’t every business moving over to it? One of the main barriers we are seeing today is cultural. Many organisations follow the ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it?’ philosophy. This conservative culture is often reinforced by agents who are uncomfortable with more technology listening in to everything they do; monitoring every action they take, and flagging it up to their managers if they are ‘out of line’.

Unfortunately, whenever new technology is introduced into an organisation, it comes with an associated fear factor. Agents are understandably concerned about what the change might mean to them.

Businesses need to do more to listen to these concerns but also educate agents about the potential benefits of the new technology in helping them perform their role. Indeed, smart organisations will work transparently and openly with agents to look at how the technology can be used to make their job better.

Humans can, for example, be especially good at empathy and working with customers who might be in a moment of crisis or an emotionally charged situation. So it makes sense for businesses to free up agents to engage with customers in this way, while deploying bot technology in the background to give them the practical information they need to answer the customer queries and follow the best available next step.

Ultimately, it has to be about empowering the agent, rather than focusing on the mechanics of finding the information the customer is looking for. With the latest call recording technology, the agent can concentrate on the interaction itself, safe in the knowledge that bots are working in the background to provide the information they need to resolve each individual query.

Agents can also can gain from the enhanced training capability on offer. Businesses can use the approach to capture the kinds of phrases or behaviours used by best performing agents or sales staff and build that into the coaching and helping engines to benefit contact centre and customer service staff as a whole.

This kind of ‘hand-in-glove’ harmony between man and machine is critical in this context. When businesses get it right, it can enhance the agent’s life enormously as well as benefitting the business and the end customer. In summary, the latest call recording technology can bring significant benefits to organisations but it needs to be introduced in a way that overcomes the cultural fear that some organisations and their staff have about bringing in the latest advanced technologies. Get all that right and businesses stand to improve their compliance position, enhance employee engagement – and drive up customer satisfaction into the bargain.




Inform. Inspire. Include.
A free way to improve your business.

Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.


CONTACT US

CALL US ANYTIME


UK Trademark UK00002648900

EUIPO Trademark 018131832

Contact Information

For article submissions:
Editor
Paul Ainsworth
paul@cxm.co.uk

For general inquiries, advertising and partnership information:
aleksandar@awardsinternational.com
Tel: 0207 1932 428

For Masterclass enquiries:
vuk@awardsinternational.com
Tel: +44 20 86385584

Customer Experience Magazine Limited
Company number: 12450532
International House, 24 Holborn Viaduct,
United Kingdom, London, England, EC1A 2BN

JOBS IN CUSTOMER SUPPORT

Find a job in customer support with Jobsora


Newsletter